Hands on with Google Chrome OS

Like at least half the nerds in America, I applied to be part of Chrome OS beta testing program . On the surface, at least, I figured myself to be an ideal Chrome user—to a sometimes-scary extent, my life is already lived in Google’s cloud. Even on a Mac I default to the Chrome browser, where I write in Google Docs, check my feeds in Google Reader, and even sync Google Calendar and Contacts to my iPhone and iPad instead of paying for . The company’s cloud-based operating system seemed the next logical step.

The CR-48—an unbranded laptop that Google is distributing free to all of its Chrome OS beta testers—arrived at my apartment on Wednesday. After two days of trying to use it as my primary computer, I’ve learned two things:

• It’s true: Like a lot of people, I now spend the vast majority of my computing time online and in the cloud.

• But like a lot of people, I don’t do of my computing there. And the things I don’t do within the cloud turn out to be critical to the way I live and work.

Here is an overview of the good, the bad and the merely perplexing of Chrome OS—with the caveat that the system is still very early in beta, and that any judgments rendered today might become moot two months, two weeks, or even two hours, from now.